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While the same M1 chip is coming out in the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini, the design of the mini gives us some forensic clues about how the M1 chip might be designed. The new M1 Mac mini is... hmm. It's not a slam dunk, but neither is it a complete WTF. It's ready enough for prime time for some tasks and carries the Apple Silicon question mark for other tasks. It's worth buying, but not for everyone or every workload. No, we're not talking about the money supply or a tank (other common uses of "M1"). Instead, our subject is the new CPU Apple introduced at this week's Apple Event. The M1 is an all-Apple design based on their mobile chips and the Arm architecture. And, yeah, it has potential. With high-performance and efficiency workload cores, with a deep commitment to on-silicon machine learning, and with an onboard GPU that shows some potential, this could be an architecture that leaves Intel behind. Just not so much yet. I talked previously about all the things that can go wrong in an architecture lift-and-shift. I also spoke about Apple's impressive track record of previous processor replacements in Macs. All that remains true after the Apple announcement. Big questions remain about how individual programs perform on the new M1. Some, like the Apple-developed juggernaut Final Cut Pro X, should perform exceptionally well. Others, like Photoshop and Fusion 360 - both mentioned in the Apple event - will either be ported to the new processor or be emulated. Performance on these, if mediocre now in Intel Rosetta 2 emulation, will undoubtedly get substantially better as their developers release updates. Virtual machines like Fusion, Parallels, and VirtualBox remain up in the air. Parallels is recruiting testers for its fully emulated version of the Intel instruction set on the M1. If you use a Mac and you rely on Windows in virtualization, you'll want to skip the M1 version, at least until the VM vendors finish their ports. After owning the 2018 Mac mini redesign, the new M1 is a bit of a letdown. We knew we'd probably see an Apple Silicon Mac mini early, simply because the developer kits released this summer were Mac mini-based. The Mac mini is a very versatile form factor, especially for those working at desks. It's definitely my favorite. I own five, ranging from 2011 to 2018. But the 2020 Mac mini takes a step backward from the Intel-based 2018 model. It loses two Thunderbolt 3 ports. The 2018 Intel model came with four Thunderbolt 3 ports and two USB-A ports. The 2020 M1 model keeps the USB-A ports, but provides only two Thunderbolt 3 ports. It also loses the ability to support 10Gb Ethernet. Yes, granted the 10Gb feature was an optional upgrade to the 2018 machine, but that upgrade is not available for the 2020 M1 machine. Another major issue is how the M1 appears to handle memory. RAM doesn't appear to be delivered via a separate module. It looks like the M1 comes out of the fab with not only in-chip video, but in-chip RAM. To be clear, in-chip RAM could well provide a strong performance boost. Bits that have to travel in and out of two separate chips will have a much larger propagation delay than bits that have to travel inside a single chip. So expect RAM performance to increase substantially. Apple tends to update its chips annually, and we can be pretty confident the M1 will be replaced by an M2 next year. While Apple has lauded the M1's performance, note that they have substantially restricted the amount of data that has to travel in and out the M1's ports. Each Thunderbolt 3 port can max out at 40Gb/s. The 10 Gb Ethernet port can theoretically max out at 10Gb, while the 1Gb maxes out at a tenth of that. Read this post in its entirety on OUR FORUM.